Kick Your Content Up a Notch with Multimedia

Posted by Raheem Dawodu On June - 5 - 2014
Raheem Dawodu

Raheem Dawodu

Caitlin Holland

Caitlin Holland

Earlier in this blog salon, we discussed the ten ways you could improve the website you already have, as well as the ways you could  create engaging content for your website.

In both of those posts, we briefly highlighted the use of multimedia – graphics, video, animation, audio – as a way to make your content more interactive.

But, what is multimedia? And what is the best way to use it to tell your organization’s story? Read the rest of this entry »

5 Documents You Need for a Successful Website Redesign

Posted by Danielle Williams On June - 4 - 2014
Danielle Williams

Danielle Williams

We’ve already talked about how important it is to do your due diligence when taking on a website redesign – figuring out your audiences, securing buy-in from your leadership, selecting good partners and vendors, the importance of quality content for your website – and we’ll be diving in deeper later in this blog salon about working with staff to create and revise quality content.

As you continue to bring together all these great resources, it will be helpful to compile them in a format that will be useful to your team and your vendors. During our website redesign, we ended up creating a number of documents that helped us fully scrutinize and contemplate all of our options. No stone was left unturned, which helped our stakeholders feel more comfortable with some of the drastic changes we were suggesting. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Artists: The Need to Reach Wider Audiences

Posted by Rosalind Flynn On March - 13 - 2014
Rosalind Flynn

Rosalind Flynn

Everyone I know who works as a teaching artist has amazing success stories of student learning experiences with, through, and in the arts. There are stories about reaching the “unreachable” student, motivating whole groups of resistant learners, creating breathtaking products, deepening understandings about curriculum subjects, and engaging the minds, bodies, and imaginations of young people in extraordinary ways.

This is great stuff. This is the kind of information that should be shared.

  • How do effective Teaching Artists get the results we get?
  • What are our methods?
  • What precisely do we do in a class session or series?

We know that what we do works and we know why it works. But are we sharing this information with a wide enough audience? I don’t think so. Read the rest of this entry »

Participation is Power

Posted by Amanda Bohan On October - 10 - 2013
American Museum of Natural History Whale Tweetup

American Museum of Natural History Whale Tweetup

The National Arts Marketing Project Conference is just over 1 month away and I’m thrilled to be both attending and speaking for the very first time. But what I’m most excited about is the theme: “Powered by Community.” Already, I’ve met so many amazing new people online through the conference Twitter hashtag (#NAMPC) and the Linkedin group. And meeting these people has reinforced just how powerful the online world can be in forging meaningful, long-lasting relationships.

Furthermore, it has reminded me how crucial participation is to the success of an event, beyond just the act of attending of course. So I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite examples from arts and culture organizations who have successfully encouraged their audiences to participate on a deeper level:

  1. American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Tweetups: AMNH understood the significance of Twitter from an early start. Since 2010, they’ve been holding special tweetup events that offer a behind-the-scenes look at various exhibits. Most recently, they held the Whales Tweetup, allowing visitors to view whale specimens and listen to whale vocalizations after hours. And prior to Whales, they invited guests to explore Our Global Kitchen , where guests enjoyed wine, chocolate, and cooking lessons, all while tweeting. These Tweetup events result in hundreds of tweets, with the potential to reach thousands.
  2. Diablo Ballet’s Crowdsourced Ballet: At the beginning of 2013, California-based Diablo Ballet asked their Facebook and Twitter followers to suggest ideas for a brand new ballet by tweeting to their page, using the hashtag #DiabloWebBallet. Followers were asked to suggest the theme and mood of the piece, as well as specific dance moves, ultimately resulting in the creation of the first-ever crowdsourced ballet. Read the rest of this entry »

What Your Audience is Actually Looking For

Posted by Sara R. Leonard On October - 9 - 2013
Sara R. Leonard

Sara R. Leonard

A few weeks ago “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling” was making the social media rounds. The album was inviting and eminently repost-able, but days after reading it, one of the points was still nagging at me. “Number two: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.” A similar mantra could be useful to those of us marketing the arts.

There’s just one thing: it’s not quite right.

The problem is that it’s actually rare for those of us who work in the performing arts to resemble our typical audience members. And it’s even less likely that our interests as audience members will align with the interests of those who aren’t currently attending events at our organizations. Last year I wrote about the perceptual and psychological barriers that keep audiences away. Just as those of us who work in the arts tend not to think enough about those barriers to participation, it often doesn’t occur to us that prospective audiences might attend a performance for reasons quite different from ours.

Read the rest of this entry »

Working with Public Transit to “Transport Opera Audiences”

Posted by Doug Tuck On October - 8 - 2013
Tuck-resized

Doug Tuck

Vancouver Opera recently received a grant from OPERA America’s Building Opera Audiences initiative, funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, to help us address three major audience-development challenges:

  1. The lack of opportunities for potential audiences to sample opera, in programming that will give people an affordable, accessible “first step” between no involvement with us and the purchase of a ticket to a mainstage performance. The best seat to an opera is the highest priced ticket in town, with the exception of decent seats at a Canucks game, so you can see our problem. A normal first step is in fact a leap, of both faith and investment.
  2. The vast untapped audiences in outlying municipalities, which are home to culturally diverse populations with little familiarity with the art form and little inclination to explore it. Metro Vancouver’s demographics are continuing to shift rapidly. Very soon, those whom we have traditionally called “visible minorities” – mainly people hailing from Asia and South Asia – will be the majority.
  3. The practical obstacle to attendance in the form of distance from those outlying areas to downtown Vancouver and our opera house.

We have devised a two-part project, which begins in February 2014. In part one, we’re going to transport opera to this untapped audience, by producing affordable sampler concerts in popular community venues: “400 years of opera in 75 minutes” or “Opera’s Greatest Hits”. In part two, we’ll sell them discounted tickets to a mainstage opera (rendering their sampler concert ticket effectively free). At the opera house, they’ll be “transported” by Mozart’s Don Giovanni or Verdi’s Don Carlo and become instant and lifelong opera lovers.

That, at any rate, is the plan. But here’s the cool part: an optional mode of transport downtown will be on specially arranged “Opera Trains.”  We’re working with our regional transit authority to create programming in the departure stations and on board the Skytrains while they ride downtown. They’ll get a pithy and playful introduction, with music, over the P.A. system, or on their smart phones, to the performance they are about to see.

There will be a splashy media launch, we’ll “wrap” Skytrain cars with all sorts of branding, we’ll give draw as much attention as we can to opera and our transit partners, and it will be a transporting experience for everyone.

Stay tuned. I’ll report later on how it goes.

Doug Tuck will be presenting the following sessions at our National Arts Marketing Program Conference November 8-11 2013 in Portland, Oregon:

Let’s Explore: Engagement

Posted by Melanie Harker On October - 8 - 2013
Melanie Harker

Melanie Harker

I am an arts explorer. Investigating ideas, pursuing new bits of information, engaging in conversation, or listening to the buzz around me; I thrive on discovering new perspectives and navigating new concepts. Through much personal exploration, I have realized what I loved most about the theater was not performance (I hold a degree in Acting) but instead the art/artist/audience community that surrounds all art in general. As a twenty-something arts professional, I have decided to dedicate myself to the pursuit of all ideas encompassing this fascinating intersection.

A couple of weeks ago I saw this New York Times (NYT) op-ed, “High Culture Goes Hands-On” by Judith Dobryanzki. In it, Dobryanzki makes the case that museums are trying too hard to create space for “visitor engagement” which augments (even tarnishes) the purpose and reputation of museums; “It changes who will go [to museums] and for what.” She even adds in a follow-up article on her personal blog that, “Art museums are… luring visitors by giving them participatory art experiences rather simply providing them with the opportunity to experience viewing glorious works of art.” While this piece references the museum world, I would like to challenge this community of arts marketers to think about its broader impact and how its claims can map directly to all arts audiences.

Linda Essig responds to Dobryanzki’s point of changing “who will go and for what” on her Creative Infrastructure blog. She writes, “That, it seems to me, is a good thing.  Arts organizations have for years been decrying their declining and graying membership and subscription bases.  If visitors change and visitors change their expectations, perhaps the sound of membership rosters circling the drain will not be so loud.”

Deborah Markow, in contrast to Essig, responds with a letter to the NYT editor agreeing with Dobryanzki, and makes the case that creating visitor engagement opportunities (like meeting the artist or interactive art installations) is not the way to help the public “appreciate and feel at ease in the presence of the great art of the past.”

As I read about all of these heated and contrasting ideas, I saw that words such as “activation,” “engagement,” and “participation” were being dropped into a bucket of full of buzzwords. Over the past two years of working for various Washington, DC theaters who are all energized by the support of their community*, I have come to know these words beyond their empty buzzword-y shells. Read the rest of this entry »

The User Experience of Your Space

Posted by Allison Houseworth On October - 7 - 2013
Allison Houseworth

Allison Houseworth

In the hours before Barry Hessenius’ Dinner-Vention this past September, Devon Smith wrote a post in which she asked “What if an arts organization employed a user experience designer?” As defined by Wikipedia – the dictionary powered by community – User Experience Design is “any aspect of a person’s interaction with a given system, including the interface, graphics, industrial design, physical interaction, and the manual.” Apple is the best example of a company that excels in the area of UX design. Everything they create is based on user experience – your iPhone, its packaging, the stores themselves. But how do arts organizations embrace the user experience?

For the last four years, I have taught a course called “Audience Engagement: In Line and Online” to MFA Theatre Management and Producing students at Columbia University. (You can follow us on Twitter at #AlliClass.) Each semester we discuss “Service Mapping,” which is identifying each touchpoint the audience member has with your organization from the moment they decide to go to the theatre to the moment they get home. We start with exposure, move on to research, purchase, and include moments like entering the venue, exiting the venue, pre- and post-show activities. Traditional tech-world UX designers – and often arts marketers! – will focus often on the two stages of service mapping we call “research” and “purchase.” This is where we analyze how easy is it for your customer to find what what’s playing, when, where, and how to buy tickets. Where I see arts marketers – and yes, arts fundraisers, producers and programmers too – really struggle is when we bring the audience into our home – “entering the venue,” “getting to your seats,” “intermission.” Once the audience gets in the door your job is not done. Your audience is, in perhaps not the kindest of terms, held captive. They are, more positively, your captive audience. So what are you going to do with them? Read the rest of this entry »

Bringing Backstage Onstage with Social Media

Posted by Kelly Page On April - 18 - 2013
Kelly Page

Kelly Page

Imagine, if we saw social media more like an artist’s studio or cafe and less like a marketing channel?

While walking through the exhibit, Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects at the Arts Institute Chicago last November, I felt like I was seeing into the private design space of the architect.

The exhibit was an installation of an architect’s studio with concept drawings, full-scale project mockups, material samples, and photographs of completed work that now form part of the Chicago city skyline. This exhibit was a celebration of the work of the artist behind their city stage.

The work of the artist backstage, however, many don’t experience. The space is unorganized and cluttered; the work in progress, being constructed, deconstructed, is unpredictable and incomplete. This is why many artists and arts managers do not openly bring backstage onstage and into the public eye—because it is messy.

Imagine for a moment, however, if we did?  Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Just Sit There, Get Involved (an EALS Post)

Posted by Raynel Frazier On March - 29 - 2013
Raynel Frazier

Raynel Frazier

We all love to go to our favorite theatre and watch a production, sit and listen to our favorite orchestra, or visit our favorite museum.

Traditionally, a person interacted with arts organizations by sitting in the audience of a theater and viewing a performance; but is that enough? I say no way! Like me, many audience members want to get involved and interact with arts organizations in a new way.

Today we live in a world with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms. These platforms give us a space to share our views and interact with people from around the world.

As a person in my early twenties, interaction and participation is crucial. Arts organizations are beginning to realize the importance of audience engagement and are finding new and innovative ways to engage their audiences.

Audience engagement includes a range of activities from open rehearsals and online forums to interactive shows. Here in Washington, DC, Dog & Pony DC produced a production of The Killing Game that whole-heartedly embraced the idea of audience engagement.  Read the rest of this entry »

Six Ways to Help Your Brand Succeed

Posted by Hannah Sawhney On March - 1 - 2013
Hannah Sawhney

Hannah Sawhney

Every organization needs a brand—it’s your core identity—the nucleus of the cell. Everything revolves and functions around it. But there’s more to it than just a design-savvy logo, and as arts marketers, we need to keep this in mind when thinking about branding.

In the National Arts Marketing Project’s most recent e-book, Turn Branding OOPS into Branding WHOOP WHOOPS, we look to the different aspects that make up a brand; focusing on ones that are have been successful with their branding efforts and others, well, that have lacked the “whoop whoop” factor when trying to reach the top.

Although we may think that we have what it takes when it comes to knowing our arts patrons, when it comes to brand management there are some key pitfalls that if overlooked can be harmful or even detrimental in the long run.

So how does one know what is behind that well-designed logo? Or, when undergoing a major re-branding effort or even starting from scratch, how can we ensure that we are taking the right steps to success?

Here are 6 points to make sure your brand doesn’t fall into the OOPS category:

1)      Switching Gears. Re-branding can make for a sticky situation. Why? Because when you’re making a major change to something that your long-time fans care about, your consumers are quick to notice (especially in the digital age). Make sure to have a strategy that stays true to not only your brand, but your audience as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Technology Driving Arts Attendance, Engagement, & Fundraising

Posted by John Eger On January - 8 - 2013

John Eger

In the last decade alone, any business without a web presence—without an online, interactive website—was simply, not in business. Or wouldn’t be for long. The government and nonprofit sector soon learned their way around the internet too.

Now the Pew Charitable Trusts, specifically the Pew Internet and American Life Project, in a major survey covering 2007–2011 and involving 1,256 arts organizations, reported that: “The internet and social media are integral to the arts in America.”

The survey found:

  • 81 percent of the organizations in this survey say the internet and digital technologies are “very important” for promoting the arts.
  • 78 percent say these technologies are “very important” for increasing audience engagement.
  • 65 percent say digital technologies are “very important” for fundraising.

There seemed no question that web presence was “important” or “very important” although not everyone is persuaded—yet—that an internet strategy is a priority. Those reporting also felt that such technologies “disrupted much of the traditional art world” by changing “audience expectations, put[ting] more pressure on the arts groups to participate actively in social media and in some circumstances, undercut[ting] organizations’ mission and revenue streams.” In fact, 40 percent believe that “attention spans for live performances” are being negatively impacted. Read the rest of this entry »

A Marketing Student’s Perspective on NAMPC

Posted by Trenten Derryberry On November - 15 - 2012

Trenten Derryberry

This was my first time attending not only the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (NAMPC), but also any conference. I am very happy to conclude that my experience was amazing and I would recommend this to anyone that is in any marketing field (and also if you are a student)!

I was asked to write this post-NAMPC piece to deliver a student perspective on the conference…here it goes!

Engagement, Mission, Alive, Active, Participatory, Stickiness, Contextualization, Spry, and Pray…all the words that come to my mind when I think of this past weekend (the list is endless!).

As a student, I came to NAMPC to primarily explore and listen to some of the TOP professionals in the marketing industry. What I received was something I wasn’t ready for.

Presenters sprawled from all areas of business (banks, agencies, venues, organizations, institutions)—both in and out of the confides of the performing arts, which I felt was an awesome exposure and a true springboard for discussions within the sessions.

Like I said earlier one of the reasons why I decided to attend was to listen and expand my critical thinking in an industry that I’m still learning about, that quickly changed to networking and participating within the sessions—I thought ‘when would be the next time I would be able to ask an audience engaging question directly to Alan Brown?’ So I did. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from the Ballpark

Posted by Doug Borwick On October - 4 - 2012

Doug Borwick

Last month I was minding my own business attending a minor league baseball game with friends, thinking not a whit about the arts. Then something remarkable happened.

Between innings, a young girl who had endured multiple open heart surgeries that saved her life was recognized, along with her family and doctor. She then ran around the bases as part of a program by the ball club called “Home Run for Life.”

This girl’s story had nothing to do with baseball. The program is clearly an effort on the part of the team to connect with its community. So that got me thinking…

What was the mindset that led to this promotion?

Clearly, it was about the team’s interest, for pragmatic reasons to be sure, in being seen as a responsible, caring member of the community. What really got the wheels turning was trying to imagine something similar happening in the arts.

Some of you may say that such a program would not be appropriate for an arts organization, and I am certainly a stickler for focus in adhering to the mission. This specific example is probably not a helpful model. But it’s the mindset that led to the “Home Run for Life” program that intrigues me.

What sorts of activities might come from a view of the “arts self” wanting to connect with the community, even ones that were not directly related to the arts?

After I started down that road, I began to look at the other activities at the ballpark that evening. There were fan participation activities, singalongs (including, of course, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”), contests, and fireworks at the end. Many of them were silly to the point of being embarrassing. Many (most?) had little or nothing to do with baseball. I would certainly not advocate for toddler races in Symphony Hall! Read the rest of this entry »

Using Sound to Build Engagement and Brand Equity

Posted by Adrion Porter On October - 4 - 2012

Adrion Porter

Is your brand being heard and not just seen?

That is the question that companies should answer with an emphatic YES! Yet many marketers focus their time and resources primarily on visual stimuli to create brand awareness. As the marketplace is becoming more crowded, brands are challenged to break through the clutter and distinguish themselves from the competition.

This calls for a need to embrace innovative methods of reaching consumers beyond the eyes, but also through the “ears.” Here lies one of the most powerful, yet under-utilized branding tools—sound.

Why is Sound Essential to Brand Performance?

One word…Emotion.

Research has proven that sound has a direct path to the emotional and memory parts of the brain. Think about those special moments when music and sound have altered our mood, enhanced feelings, and guided us to places long forgotten. Hearing the sound of birdsong in the morning; an opening theme from a television show; or the sound of our mother’s voice.

As more consumers make purchase decisions driven by emotion rather than function, having sound as part of an identity system allows for brands to resonate in ways that visuals cannot. Audio branding communicates those intangible brand associations that pull at the heartstrings and create unforgettable experiences.

Some brands have been successful market leaders at harnessing the power of music and sound with great effect. McDonald’s “Ba-da-ba-ba-baah…I’m Lovin It” is just as recognizable as the golden arches.

The start-up sound of a MacBook Pro provides an emotional trigger to Apple enthusiasts.

Along with the peacock, the NBC three-tone chimes are the network’s brand assets. Read the rest of this entry »

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Teaching Artists

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Charting the Future of the Arts

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.